The Best Flip-Flop Sandals For Women Review
Whether you live for flip flop weather or you're simply looking for some open-toed footwear to wear on your next beach vacation, our updated women's flip flop review has you covered! We tested out 11 pairs of sandals that ranged from insanely cozy to ultra supportive. After flipping up rocky trails and flopping down beautiful beaches, we're here to help you score some open-toed footwear that will keep your feet happy throughout the season. We've ranked each piece according to support, comfort, water resistance, traction, and style. Read on to learn which products excelled across all categories and which ones just didn't make the grade.
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Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
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Analysis and Test Results
It's that critical moment: summer's just around the corner and you're out shopping when you pass by the big display of $5 bargain zories. Sure, you could rock a pair of these thin, traction-less flips for half the summer, but we're here to introduce you to a whole new world of open-toed, warm weather footwear! Although choosing the right sandal is less important than finding the right trail running shoe or the best fitting hiking boot, opting for a sandal with extra support, traction, and comfort can help keep your feet and joints healthy, especially if you spend lots of time in open-toed footwear. In this article we'll break down the pros and cons of 11 different pairs of flops and describe the metrics we used to rate them. For more information, be sure to check out our buying advice article How to Choose Women's Flip-Flop Sandals.
Types of Women's Flip-Flops
In our review, we limited our product selection to pieces with thong-style straps that join together at a toe post between the first and second toes and then create a "V" shape across the top of the foot. That said, there are numerous other strap configurations on the market. For example the Teva Olowahu and the Chaco Zong both have straps that criss-cross across the forefoot, but don't have the heel strap. These models are a little more difficult to slip on and off, but they stay in place a little better once you have them on, especially for individuals with low-volume feet. They also offer a different look than their thong-style sisters. Once you decide on a strap configuration that works for you, another thing to consider is footbed type. In our review, we tested products with the following different footbed styles:
Models such as our Editors' Choice winner, the OluKai Ohana - Women's and our Top Pick Award winner, the Reef Women's Fanning both feature contoured footbeds with a fixed anatomical mold. Generally, these footbeds offer more support, specifically underneath the arch, and they provide greater overall stability. Typically, they are more expensive, but if you spend lots of time in open-toed footwear, they are definitely the way to go.
The Reef Sandy Sandal and our Best Buy Award winner, the Teva Women's Mush II, both have foot-molding footbeds. As the wearer begins to break in these flops, the footbeds form to the shape of the foot. The personalized fit increases comfort and provides some support, but typically does not offer as much stability as a model with a contoured footbed.
In our review, we tested several products that have "novelty footbeds." The Nike Comfort Thong (with its memory foam footbed) and both Sanuk models (with their yoga mat footbeds) offer an interesting take on sandal comfort. We found that these pieces didn't provide much stability or support, but they do have a unique "Ahhhh" effect that earned them extra comfort points.
Criteria for Evaluation
Support & Stability
Although many of us would like to think that support and stability are not important in a flip flop, at OutdoorGearLab, we know that unsupportive footwear (sandals included!) can lead to a variety of long-term problems. In some ways, it would be nice to be able to get away with wearing budget pieces like the Havaianas Top - Women's forever, but the sad truth is that abusing your feet with thin, unstable sandals can lead to arch and joint issues down the road.
To help highlight the pieces that will really keep your feet healthy, we made our "Support & Stability" metric one of the most important and heavily weighted categories in our review. Overall, we found that only the higher-end models like the OluKai Ohana and the Chaco Flip - Women's really scored well in this category. These pieces have contoured footbeds that support the arch, and their soles are stable enough that they provide a little more protection against ankle rolling than thinner competitors. Additionally, models like the Reef Fanning and Crocs Capri IV have extra padding in the heels to absorb shock. These features also help make these products easier to wear all day long.
While factors like arch support certainly play a role in overall comfort, our Comfort metric solely reflects the amount of "Ahhhhh" effect we experienced when wearing each sandal. Sometimes, you just don't need a product that's going to hold up during a three-mile hike or stay on your feet during a long river paddle you just want a sandal that's going to make your feet feel pampered while you sit at your favorite beach-side coffee shop, or one that will help your feet relax after a burly workout at the gym. And that is what our Comfort category is all about!
The Sanuk Yoga Mat - Women's offers a comfy, novelty yoga mat footbed but earned lower scores in metrics like support and water resistance. Models like this one and the Nike Comfort Thong are designed to make you say "Ahhhh" the minute you slip them on, but try to wear them all day and you will discover that the lack of support will probably leave you hanging.
Other critical comfort concerns include strap width and lining, sandal weight, and footbed width. In general, our testers found that wider straps are more comfortable, especially when they feature some sort of lining or padding. The two pairs with the least comfortable straps include the Havaianas Top and the Sanuk Yoga Spree 2, which have thin, poorly lined straps. Some people find heavier flops to be less comfortable, so we weighed each pair and factored this into our scores. Finally, our individual reviews discuss the footbed width of each piece, so that individuals with wider or narrower feet can optimize their comfort.
It's that moment when you're packing up your gym or beach bag and you realize that your flips are still soaked with water. Nobody likes being stuck in this situations and we're here to help you avoid it. Throughout our testing process, we romped through waves, crossed creeks, hiked sloppy trails, and visited a hot tub or two. Then, just to make sure that we compared all the products evenly, we soaked each pair and then laid them out to dry. Throughout this process, we considered how much water the sole and straps absorbed and timed the whole drying process.
The only flip that truly excelled in this category was the Havaianas Top (we simply dried these off with a towel and called it a day), but several other models, including the Reef Sandy Sandal also took top marks. Meanwhile, pieces like the Sanuk Yoga Mat, the Sanuk Yoga Spree, the Keen Florence Flip, and the Nike Comfort Thong took upwards of four hours to dry completely. Aside from these four models, we were surprised to find that the soles and footbeds of all the other pieces dried in just 15 minutes of full sun. Ultimately, it's the straps that take a longer time to fully dry.
At first, we thought about traction only as a bottom-of-the-sole thing, which, to be fair, is how most people think about traction. But then we realized that a major portion of sandal slipping and sliding is caused by a lack of footbed traction. But let's talk about sole traction first: we ran all the pieces in this review through a traction obstacle course complete with slippery rocks, steep inclines, and wet logs. Top performers included Chaco, OluKai, and the Reef Women's Fanning. Meanwhile, Havaianas, Sanuk, and Crocs earned significantly lower scores. Throughout this process, we learned that traction is not only affected by the treads and the type of rubber used on the sole, it's also directly related to the amount of stability that the shoe provides.
Next, on to footbed traction: when we wore the Sanuk Yoga Spree 2 in a dusty environment, our testers constantly dealt with foot slippage. The slick yoga mat footbed on this piece doesn't provide any grip, which increases the chance of the heel slipping off and getting scraped, or worse. Our Editors' Choice Award outdid all its competitors in this regard. The OluKai Ohana features an inset ICEVA footbed that maximizes grip, while still remaining remarkably comfortable.
Style & Fit
The pieces in this review range from athletic and techy to delicate and feminine. We polled an array of women via social media to generate our style scores; not surprisingly, our respondents found the more athletic models - like the Nike Comfort Thong - less stylish, and awarded higher scores to products like the Sanuk Yoga Spree 2 and the Keen Florence Flip. Both of these sandals can easily be paired with a casual dress or skirt for a beach-side happy hour or afternoon barbecue. Several models, like the Reef Fanning and Crocs Capri IV fell in the mid-range of our style metric. We think these pieces appeal to more specific audiences, so be sure to check out our analysis of each sandal's style in our individual reviews.
Our individual reviews also break down the fit of each piece. This type of footwear normally only comes in whole sizes, and since our main tester is a half size, we have some helpful information about whether to size up or down. We were surprised at how much we learned about fit during our testing process. Aside from assessing length, width, and strap volume, we learned that toe box shape makes a big difference in fit. A sandal may fit you perfectly length-wise, but if you have longer or wider toes and the flop's toe box is just a bit narrow, your toes might hang slightly off the front.
Finding a pair of flip-flops for the summer isn't necessarily difficult, but finding a pair with appropriate support, traction, and comfort for your lifestyle is a different story. We think that a pair of open toe sandals from this review could change your summer experience. For more information on finding your perfect flip fit, be sure to check out our Buying Advice guide.
— Amanda Fenn
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